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Am J Pathol. 2000 Jun;156(6):2045-56.

Depletion of hepatic glutathione prevents death receptor-dependent apoptotic and necrotic liver injury in mice.

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Department of Biochemical Pharmacology, University of Konstanz, Germany.


The activation of the death receptors, tumor necrosis factor-receptor-1 (TNF-R1) or CD95, is a hallmark of inflammatory or viral liver disease. In different murine in vivo models, we found that livers depleted of gamma-glutamyl-cysteinyl-glycine (GSH) by endogenous enzymatic conjugation after phorone treatment were resistant against death receptor-elicited injury as assessed by transaminase release and histopathology. In apoptotic models initiated by engagement of CD95, or by injection of TNF or lipopolysaccharide into galactosamine-sensitized mice, hepatic caspase-3-like proteases were not activated in the GSH-depleted state. Under GSH depletion, also caspase-independent, TNF-R1-mediated injury (high-dose actinomycin D or alpha-amanitin), as well as necrotic hepatotoxicity (high-dose lipopolysaccharide) were entirely blocked. In the T-cell-dependent model of concanavalin A-induced hepatotoxicity, GSH depletion resulted in a suppression of interferon-gamma release, delay of systemic TNF release, hepatic nuclear factor-kappaB activation, and an abrogation of sinusoidal endothelial cell detachment as assessed by electron microscopy. When GSH depletion was initiated 3 hours after concanavalin A injection, ie, after the peak of early pro-inflammatory cytokines, livers were still protected. We conclude that sufficient hepatic GSH levels are a prerequisite for the execution of death receptor-mediated hepatocyte demise.

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